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Engaging communities + Grant recipients

Tilt-Down Fence

For over 30 years the BSA Foundation has awarded grants to support public education programs in Massachusetts related to the built environment. BR+A+CE: Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, Inc.—a 2015 grantee—received a grant to support Tilt-Down Fence. Tilt-Down Fence is a public art installation that commemorates Boston’s rich history as a diverse hub of immigration and celebrates the present contribution of immigrants. Learn more about BR+A+CE here.

BR+A+CE's summary of the program:

The installation will be comprised of a series of ladders that line up along the existing path near Fields Corner Station. The new installation is designed as a penetrable and functional fence made out of bamboo ladders—supplied and donated from local nurseries—that can transform into tables, seats, or climbing structures. The fence carries both metaphor and practical function. It is a climbing structure (metaphor: the economic ladder) and place where adults can gather and network, supporting each other and making upward mobility possible.

Who was the audience and what was the benefit?

Located near Fields Corner Station and close to a bus stop in Dorchester, the installation will be a place for conversation and dialogue between the various cultures living in Dorchester, including elderly and children of Viet-AID that often cross the site. The area naturally has high pedestrian traffic and would benefit from the installation’s activation of the park.

How did this program meet BSA Foundation funding goals?

BR+A+CE strives to engage social, economic, and cultural issues through a collaborative and civic-minded approach to design. Our mission for the upcoming year is to positively impact the community’s sense of identity and belonging through the design of a place where the Fields Corner community and Vietnamese immigrants supported by Viet-AID can gather for communal social activity and conversation.

What was the final product of your BSA Foundation grant-funded program?

The installation will be a series of ladders that line up along the existing path through the park, activating the space to bring the Vietnamese immigrant community of Viet-AID—the VietAID Au Co preschoolers, parents, and the elderly population—and the neighboring communities together to allow for conversation.

How did you deliver your program to your target audience?

During this period, BR+A+CE received permission from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) on December 14, 2015 to use this site for the installation. Additionally, BR+A+CE also received a grant from The Boston Foundation’s Vision Fund, which will assist with the cost of materials for building the fences. In addition to finding funds to guarantee the installation’s implementation, BR+A+CE met with the Fields Corner Civic Association and will attend a meeting with Bloomfield Park Neighborhood Association at the end of this month to ensure that our target audience is continually a part of the design and implementation phases. Finally, BR+A+CE is the process of finding a landscape contractor.

Evaluate how well your program met your intended goals.

Together with Viet-AID, BR+A+CE aims to not only bring quality public art to Fields Corner to serve the user group and larger community, but also design a public space or art installation that commemorates Boston’s rich history as a diverse hub of immigration and celebrates the present contributions of immigrants to the city. In this period, we have found the funds and collaborations to realize these goals.

Provide a brief summary about leadership:

This project was conceived, fabricated, and funded by BR+A+CE. BR+A+CE :Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, a 501c3 charitable organization, was founded by artists and designers to create new community spaces that engage social, economic, and cultural issues facing communities around the world. BR+A+CE operates by bringing together artists and designers from various disciplines with community members to create new community spaces. BR+A+CE believes that this collaboration encourages a spirit of learning and exchange between groups, ultimately leading to sensitive and sustainable projects.

This temporary installation is by BR+A+CE in partnership with Viet-AID. This collaboration began with a meeting with the summer youth group coordinators of the Dorchester Environmental Action Program (DEAP) at Viet-AID. The conversation covered goals for collaborative work and input on how the installation could serve both the community at Viet-AID and the local Dorchester community.

Viet-AID is currently working on the parcel across the proposed site at 491 Geneva Avenue, owned by Dorchester Gardenlands. The youth group of DEAP has cleared the site in preparation for benches to be built. The Tilt-Down Fence could compliment Viet-AID’s effort and create a larger impact on the neighboring communities.

Viet-AID aims to build a strong Vietnamese-American community while transforming Fields Corner into a vibrant, diverse neighborhood. Viet-AID promotes civic engagement and community building; develops affordable housing and commercial space; provides small business technical assistance and micro-enterprise development; and offers high quality child care services.

View images from the program below.

To learn more about how the BSA Foundation is making an impact in communities, please come to BSA Space for a one hour “tour” of BSA Foundation programs. On the tour, board members and volunteers will tell stories about how Foundation programs, and the power of design, are positively changing the lives of real people. Meet the BSA Foundation meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. Events are free, but seats are limited. Check for upcoming dates and to reserve your seat.